Thursday, August 11, 2005

Why the book reviews?

My goal in posting these book reviews:

Here’s the thing. I’m one of those people who needs to be doing a few things at once. I have to be busy at all times. I can’t just sit in down in front of the TV and watch. If I’m in front of the TV, I’m also writing, or drawing or reading a magazine. It’s annoying, but hey, that’s me. I’m actually making a purposeful effort these days to sit down in front of the TV for a few minutes each night and do nothing other than eat my dinner. That’s my “slow down” time. During much of the year, I’m busy with schoolwork and attending basketball games and concerts and such, so trying to figure out how to spend time at home is not really an issue. The summer months though, they’re slow. Dirk isn’t even in the country right now and I miss him so much!!

Here’s the thing though… the only thing that really settles me is reading. (Painting also, but that involves the committment of cleanup and setup and such, but you can't take your paints to bed with you at night, or at least you shouldn't. Some people might, but hey, I'm the first to admit I'm kind of boring.) My love of reading goes back to when I was a kid needing so desperately to escape, finding my only solace in Nancy Drew books and later Christopher Pike books. It’s my way of dealing or maybe not dealing. I slip into another world where I can forget the real world for a bit. And summer is the best time for reading. I spend a huge chunk of my weekend doing nothing other than lounging in the backyard with a book. (Yes, I know the sun is bad for you, and guess what, I don’t really care.) I will remain out there for hours in the sweltering heat, tanning and reading. My idea of heaven.

In the past, I’ve not been very adventurous in my reading choices. I tend to read nothing other than crime novels written by British women – three women in particular – P.D. James, Ruth Rendell (who also writes as Barbara Vine), and Minette Walters. Toss in the occasion Harry Potter, Margaret Atwood and Anne Tyler, a few of the classics, some non-fiction/current event type stuff, and that’s about it. I decided years ago that I didn’t have enough time to read books I wasn’t certain I would love.

But I would read reviews of other books and make lists and search the bargain tables at the used bookstores hoping to find something new. I mean, at this point, I’ve read everything by P.D. James and haven’t liked the last two books by Minette Walters, so I was running out of stuff. And there was this new book coming out about Dracula and there’s nothing I love more than a good vampire novel. But I’m trying to conserve money and one of my rules is “never pay full price for books.”

So I went to the library -- located an entire three blocks from my house – yeah, I’m feeling kind of stupid for not having thought of this sooner. And now I have reading adventures a plenty! But serious, since the books are free and I don’t have to find a home for them after reading them, I’m trying out some books I would have never touched otherwise. (And hope to eventually read the rest of the Ruth Rendell books that I’ve not yet read -- there are quite a few at the library that I do not own yet!)

Now you know about my reading habits, but why the book reviews? Because in a past life, one that ended years ago, I had dreams of being a writer. Well, I’ve come to accept that I don’t really have the ability to write much of anything that anyone else will ever want to read. These book reviews are no exception really, but I thought it was a way to combine my newly strengthened love of reading with my desire to write. It is a start of some sort. I’d read these books and want to talk to someone about them, but, well, you finish a book at 3am on Thursday night morning there’s not anyone around to talk to at the moment, so I’d write about them instead. And what I’ve tried to do is edit up those notes a bit and post them here in this blog. (Besides that, I was beginning to think that I was the only person left in the world without a blog. What else can I blog about? The fungus on the rose bushes, the scratch on my car, very exciting, but I’m saving that for the novel … )

I read a book last summer called Reading Lolita in Tehran. It’s an amazing book. I recommend it to everyone. It’s about a woman who educates women in Tehran using the classic literature. The critique of the literature the professor uses sort of wraps around the stories of these women. By talking about the books and way the women view these books, you gain a unique understanding about the lives of these women living is a world so different from ours. The books create a common ground and a new perspective at the same time. Anyway, I mention that book because I loved the way the author was able to write about these lives while at the same time writing about books.

I guess I sort of hope that at some point, my writing of book reviews will evolve into something more significant and profound than “I liked this” and “didn’t like that.” It’s not there yet, not by any means. Right now, it is very much "this is what I liked and this is what I didn’t like." But I’m just getting started.

Well, that’s all for now… I’m going to get back to reading Zorro…

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